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John Gilmore & Art Blakey
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Chicago born, Gilmore first picked up a reed (the clarinet) when he was 14. The US Air Force gave him a chance to familiarize himself with the tenor sax (thanks Uncle Sam.)
John Coltrane thought enough of Gilmore to take informal lessons with him in the late 50s. (Coltrane also took lessons from Ornette Coleman.)
A devotee of fellow Chicagoan Sun Ra, Gilmore was also a major figure in the hard bop movement.
"Blowing In from Chicago" which he co-lead with Clifford Jordan is considered one of the classics of the genre.
In case you're wondering, yes, Gilmore was another student of the amazing "Captain" Walter Dyett of DuSable High School on Chicago's South Side, arguably the most important music conservatory in American history.
Think I'm kidding?
Here are the grads who entered as 14 year olds and left four years later as professional musicians. Walter Dyett did that.
Nat King Cole
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